January 21, 2008
WYE MILLS - Economic worries, Iraq and illegal immigration predominated in a crowded but congenial debate yesterday for Maryland's 1st Congressional District.
Seven candidates, four Democrats and three Republicans, shared the stage at Chesapeake College and talked with about 100 voters for an hour and a half. The candidates didn't question one another and avoided attacks; they spent most of the forum outlining their plans to improve the economy, boost access to health care and address immigration.
The candidates included Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a nine-term incumbent being challenged by two Republican state senators. Gilchrest is one of two Republicans to vote last year for a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, and he used the debate to reassure voters that he supports American soldiers.
Gilchrest said he believed the troop surge in Iraq "has been successful" and credited "the stunning competence of the American military."
Gilchrest and several of his rivals mentioned immigration as a national problem and vowed to work in Congress to reduce illegal immigration.
"We've let the borders go haywire," said Republican Robert Joseph Banks, a former Orphans' Court judge from Baltimore County. Banks called for "phased-in deportation" of immigrants who are in the country without permission and concluded, "No amnesty for anyone. It's that simple."
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